Monday, February 15, 2010

a reminder

Coming home from church yesterday, there were many extra cars parked near our house (we are one house away from the corner house). We pulled in the driveway, and noticed that two of our next door neighbor's sons were on the threshold, waiting, watching us get out of our car. They wanted to be sure we were OK with what was about to happen.

Nick had been sick for a year and a half. All I could ask was: is everything alright? They informed us that their father had passed away that morning, and that the folks from the funeral home were getting ready to carry him out. So we stood right there, watching our neighbor go on his last journey. It was then I realized that one of the cars was a hearse.

I haven't yet had a chance to talk with Joan, his wife; NickandJoan we called our neighbors, always their names in one breath. We knew Nick had been sick with lung cancer. He fought a long and brave battle, with small successes like disappearing tumors, but he was never able to stop smoking. Time and again he would go out back, out the kitchen door, and light yet another cigarette. He was a lifelong smoker, a gentle man, always speaking with us over the fence, commenting on our flowers; he had a soft spot for a big grey cat that always came and hung out near him, in the sun. A year ago this December, he turned 75 and I made him a hat because he had lost all his hair due to the chemo. The one small thing I could do for him. He wore it all that winter.

I do wish he had been able to quit. I know he did his darndest to not expose his wife to second hand smoke, but those cigarettes sure had a firm grip on him. He told me a few times that smoking gets him through the stress of having cancer.

If you know anyone who smokes, please encourage them to quit today. Cigarettes literally take your breath away.


  1. It's so sad to see anyone smoke. Such a destructive habit, and such a strong addiction.

  2. Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. I'm so glad he at least got to see 75.

    My first roommate in the hospital a year ago was a woman who'd lost an arm to cancer that had now metastasized through everything. And yet, my mom heard her arguing with her doctor over the phone that she just needed one cigarette, what harm was it going to do now. One night, she slipped out at about 2:30 am and came back in awhile later, don't know how she got it or who she cadged it from, reeking of tobacco.

    I'm guessing she fell asleep feeling triumphant.

    I didn't sleep for a long, long time.

  3. I am so sorry. A year ago I watched my father die of lung cancer, 10 weeks after he was diagnosed. He too, continued to smoke til the end. Hopefully, my children will never smoke.

  4. Karen--I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your neighbor. I know my own grandfather had quit smoking when we was 75 and it certainly bought him another 7 years of a quality life. It's never too late to quit.

    On a lighter note...I was at Trumpet Hill the other day and managed to snag the last skein of Lucy's Hair. The color is SOOOOO Fantastic and I giggle with every stitch I make! So, thank you for such a beautiful color!

  5. I am so sorry Karin. I remember an uncle who, after having surgery for cancer, would smoke cigarettes through a trach tube. It is a horrible addiction. Good luck to those trying to kick it. Cathy

  6. I am so sorry for Joan's, their sons' and your loss.

    I quit smoking years ago, after my mother died from emphysema. She was still smoking with an oxygen tank next to her. It's an addiction, just like Heroin or Cocaine.

  7. Karin, I'm so sorry to hear about your neighbor. My husband lost a dear family friend --- whom they all called Uncle Dennis --- several years ago to throat cancer. He was a heavy smoker, as well as tobacco chewer. It must be so devastating seeing someone decline so rapidly. I hope that you and your family, as well as your neighbor's family are all hanging in there.

  8. My grandfather died of emphysema some 33 years ago. I can still hear the sounds of his labored breathing in those last few conversations. My father and step-father both quit and I'm convinced it added years to their lives. My sister-in-law quit after a scare and she is so much better. it used to break my heart to see the high schoolers that I taught take up smoking. They never thought anything would happen to them.

    My sympathy to all involved.

  9. So sad. I'm an ex-smoker and I'm glad I learned my lesson.


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